Fresh Choice becomes California Fresh, more closures

Fresh Choice reopens in Rohnert Park, Sweet River Grill closes along with California Thai, Sapporo

Sapporo is among te recent closures
Sapporo is among te recent closures
Sapporo is among te recent closures
Sapporo is among the recent closures

Just weeks after closing, the former Fresh Choice soup and salad eatery in Rohnert Park has reopened, causing not a little bit of head-scratching from local diners. Some of whom never realized it closed.

According to the SacBee, after Fresh Choice slid into Chapter 7 liquidation in November (closing dozens of restaurants including the RP and Santa Rosa Plaza locations), former company president David Boyd reincarnated four locations in Cupertino, San Leandro, Rohnert Park and Sacramento as California Fresh in late December and early January. 

The Bee says more California Fresh locations will reopen in the coming weeks.

One Fresh Choice that isn’t slated for re-opening, however, is Santa Rosa Plaza. Spokeswoman Kim Hall says they’re in talks with a number of businesses for the now-vacant location, but California Fresh — at least for now — isn’t one of them.

Also closed is Sweet River Grill at Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa. The restaurant quietly shuttered in late December after being at the location for nearly 26 years. Hall, says “He made the decision that it was time for him to close and move on to another chapter in his life. He had a great run for many years.”

Gone too, as of January 1, 2013 are California Thai and Sapporo Japanese Restaurant at the Brickyard Center.

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44 thoughts on “Fresh Choice becomes California Fresh, more closures

  1. The California Fresh that opened in Capitola is AWFUL!!! Fresh Choice used to be one of my kids favorite places to eat, but with the switch the prices went up and the food quality tanked and both boys never want to go back. Everything was stale. The only fresh food was the veggies. Chips, croutons, pizza, pasta and sauce, macaroni, all stale and gross. They bread was so dry it crumbled when I tried to grab a piece with the tongs. The bread pudding was nothing but stale corn muffins with some sort of sauce on it. The chicken noodle soup was water with a ton of celery and almost no chicken. The manager when I told her my kids were very upset about the fact there was no longer chocolate ice cream told me, “Well, there is chocolate pudding.” Not an answer, not helpful, and not particularly polite either. We will never be going back there.

    1. very very true! …..This place was Definitely the worst restaurants i have ever been to. there was a dead fly in my salad! The workers were very rude, they didnt even say sorry about the fly! my family and i were very shocked with the way “California freash” has turned out! i could go on and on about things that went wrong with is place.

  2. I went to Rohnert Park 2 weeks ago, at 2:30pm there were 10 diners which surprised me… I expected to be the only one there.

    The desserts, muffins have less selections. The soups however were very good. I really liked the lentil soup.

    Overall to be, this place is above average. I don’t always have to eat meat. However these are the things I think can improve. Since the beginning, Fresh Choice had to draw crowds to make profits….people are eating less and spending less on eating out.

    1. better salad dressing, at least make an Italian dressing from scratch, you can tell everything is from bottle and one of the thickening ingrediants is gum emusifier
    2. greens come precut in a bag, why not cut from scratch, then i know there’s no bleached soaked in the lettuce.
    3. lemonade is from powered crap, I actually can’t believe people pay for this

    I read that the salad was tasteless cause the temperature was too cold. Just passing that info

    Anyway, the nice female manager promised me “Fiery Tofu Coconut Soup” which California Thai and other Thai restaurant serves a small bow for $5 each.

    yes, I’ll still support them, but I can’t get my friends to go….
    maybe they should do a “Thai Buffet”

    Stamp your card,,, 10 visits = one free meal

    By the way, BJ is doing extremely well. The way Americans eat, they must as well go from BJ to KAiser hospital. THe worse part is too bad I have to pay other people’s medical bill for their “Standard American Diet” SAD

    I got this email below 3 weeks ago …



    535 Howe Avenue, Sacramento, Ca 95825

    10123 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

    San Leandro
    15555 E. 14th Street, #105, San Leandro, CA 94578

    Rohnert Park
    5080 Redwood Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928


    2030 Douglas Boulevard, Roseville, CA 95661

    8697 San Ysidro Avenue, Gilroy, CA 95020

    4927 Junipero Serra Boulevard, Colma, CA 94014

    3555 Clares Street, Capitola, CA 95010

    248 Great Mall Drive, Milpitas, CA 95035

    Walnut Creek
    1275 South Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

    We look forward to introducing you to the NEW California Fresh!

    We hope to see you soon!

    1. My wife and I just ate today at the California Fresh in Walnut Creek. Everything was sub-par. Five of the eight soda dispensers where not functioning and the soft serve yogurt machine was also broken. Clam chowder just brought out from the kitchen was cold. Most of the pastas where hard and crunchy from sitting too long. These were also cold. The plates at the entrance were went and slippery and obviously hadn’t been cleaned or dried properly. Only one person was picking up dirty plates from the tables, with the result that a table near us was stacked with dirty dishes for nearly the entire time we were there. This restaurant is being badly mismanaged and is a disgrace.

  3. How can California Fresh be any worse than Fresh Choice was? Is it even worth going there to find out?

    As for the reply that said, “a homeless person snuck in the exit door, used the bathroom and then helped himself to the hot food line! lol, nothing against him…”

    NOTHING AGAINST HIM? At least he used the bathroom BEFORE contaminating all the food in the buffet line.

    1. heehee, I would agree with you on the using the bathroom before, but that is actually what grossed me out, lol. Maybe he didn’t wash heehee. I didn’t mean nothing against him or sound mean. I actually thought, the food we paid such a high price for was totally not worth it and if he could slip in there without them seeing when he wasn’t being too inconspicuous, then at least it was somone who really needed it and not just ripping somone off. I figured, my food sucked for the amount of money I paid, he could “share” my plate and have my unused seconds, heehee.

  4. I see that O’Connors City Tavern, the former John Barleycorns in Bennett Valley is closed too. It’s so sad that somebody with genuine experience and a knowledge of the restaurant and bar business doesn’t turn this prime location into an establishment that will thrive once again here.

    In this business it’s all about location, Bennett Valley is it. And it’s also about ‘knowing’ how to properly run this type of business without all the wrong concepts.

    And a piece of advice from a former restauranteur, get ride of the low life that tries to hang out in there. You don’t need them, and they turn business away. Lastly, a bar is supported by its restaurant, not the other way around.

  5. Oh for the love of God…just let the Fresh Choice chain DIE already!! Why are they even bothering to keep such a crappy establishment going when it will meet it’s untimely demise just the same in the end. It’s doors just reopened and yet it’s already littered with comments about poor quality food, just as it’s always been. It’s like a terminally ill patient that someone just needs to pull the plug on, yet they insist on making it suffer along until it reaches an end free from any sort of dignity. Just let it go, and make way for something new to open that might actually have a shot at having decent food! Fresh Choice has always sucked…someone put it out of it’s misery!

    And no surprise to Sweet River or Sapporo going under either. Can’t even believe they’ve lasted THIS long! Even at their peak it was subpar food that struggled to even be considered mediocre.

    Good riddance to bad restaurants. Progress.

  6. I am glad Sapporo is gone, my roommate worked there years ago, they hired her at a “training wage”, she had to split her tips with the owners and when the time came for her get a raise from her training wage they called and asked me to tell her she was no longer needed.

  7. My family and I tried California Fresh yesterday. We were sooo exicted Fresh Choice re-opened as this place. Until we got in the door!! Salad bar seemed ok………not great, but do-able. The fruit offered in line was orange wedges and honey dew. The soup…………GROSS!! NOT the thick wide noodles they had in the chicken noodle soup. It was from a can taste. The noodles were soooo long, you struggled to get into bowl. The hot dishes were watery looking mac and cheese, spaghettie with watery looking meat sauce, herb butter rice and roasted red potatoes. The potatoes were raw. The soup gross. the only muffin choice was corn muffin that had not corn in it and tasted like yellow cake, and chocolate brownie. The only bread they had was all white and one attempt at a darker white! no hearty grain brain. Cheese pizza, veggie pizza and pepperoni. over cooked baked potatoes that were shrivled up and coated in vegetable oil. Dessert was…………ice cream. No sugar free jello. NO whip cream. No pudding. Very disappointed. No healthy choices really at all. if you go for salad, you don’t want to feel like you are going to the Sizzler salad bar and getting fried, high fat, carby food. No fruit. AND it was 8.99 for that crap. There are no healthy salad bar choices anymore in a restaurant. We used to love Marie Callandars. They had a fresh salad bar with fruit and healthy protein choices of chicken or turkey. Also, a homeless person snuck in the exit door, used the bathroom and then helped himself to the hot food line! lol, nothing against him, I sympathize, but obviously not very observant. It just seemed dirty and thrown together.

    1. Your version and visit sounds identical to my last trip to Fresh Choice months ago. Thanks for the warning. We won’t bother frequenting their establishment anytime soon.

  8. Very disappointed to hear Shapporo’s is no long in business it’s been a favorite and the only sushi restaurant I would go to. They had excellent service and the food was superb.

    1. Hi there, just an fyi, there is a Sushi restaurant on the main drag in Cotati that every week when I go by they are packed. So, must have good food. Maybe give them a whirl. 🙂

  9. If some of the “local” restaurants kept their standards up to those of some of the chains, it’d be a different story. Stop blaming chain restaurants for the demise of a crappy mom n’ pop who over charges and maybe USED to make decent food, but got lazy…Starting to sound like Narsi…

  10. Thai food, Sushi, Fresh Choice? C’mon man, we may as well
    live in anywhere USA. If you lack originality you will lack
    sustainability, especially if your location is less than stellar.
    How about a sausage bar with live kraut. You heard it hear
    first SoCo brothers and sisters.

      1. Fermentation should be a part of every meal. Throw in some local lamb/beef/pork/herb sausage with available spices and let the probiotics do the rest.

  11. California Thai ,
    Cashew Chicken, Spicy Lime salad, ,Thai quesadilla, beef Satay, all were very good, that is what I’ll miss.
    What I won’t miss are the nasty chairs you had to sit in,stained and old.
    The food and service made it worth going back for though.
    Hope they reopen somewhere else in the county.

  12. Very sad to see Sapporo leave the Brickyard Center. Their family had been in business for many years and I know quite a few people who loved that place. The service was friendly and the food was always fresh. California Thai was far too expensive; probably a result of always being empty. Unfortunately, the corner is still struggling for business.

    I disagree with @Alexa’s comment about live music especially. Sprenger’s Tap Room has brought an enormous amount of business to both the Dungeon and Bananas. The venue fills a major gap in Santa Rosa venues for blues and singer/songwriter talent. Although I am not a fan of the food, their beer selection is top notch.

    Mr. Hof Brau was a huge mistake, the owners thought they could bring the same senior citizen crowd from Coddingtown but those people just don’t frequent that area of town and few young people iare going to frequent an establishment that serves over-cooked 50’s style food – What should go in there is something like East West Cafe. I would also like to see another coffee shop! Holy Roast in a favorite but they close far too early. It would be nice to have an Aroma’s style place that stays open late and offers music. How about a corner market please!! There is NO WHERE to buy eggs withing 10 blocks of the mall!

    1. It’s certainly not a grocery store (and believe me I would love to see one downtown), but the E Street corner market does have eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Most of the basics. And the people who work there are really nice! It’s probably 6 blocks from the mall.

    2. There is a corner store w/in blocks of the mall- 9th St Market, on corner of 9th and Wilson. I think that may be what Jenn is referring to, and they ARE really nice owners and carry all the basics. It would be nice to have more corner store type markets in downtown area, though. And I, too, wish there were more late-night coffee houses, and a healthy option restaurant downtown. I kind of miss Good Earth!

  13. Sweet River was part of a chain as well.. sad it’s been there so long, but not surprising with BJ’s in the same center. speaking of chains…. can we get a Sonic in Santa Rosa…that’s be good!

  14. I think Chipotle will be taking over the Coddington restaurant location. I just found out today from the city of SR that Chipotle is seeking approval for a restaurant In Coddingtown and the mall doesn’t exactly have a food court for them to go to

    1. I don’t agree with that statement at all. I used to go to California Thai and Sapporo frequently, since they’re next door to my office. Over the years, Sapporo’s quality just got worse and worse (it was actually the first place I had sushi when i was a teen visiting my grandma in California!). But so few people ever ate there that i started getting a little nervous about eating sushi there. California Thai was always pretty good, but it got really depressing to be the only people in the restaurant and the price point was high for just a working lunch.

      I’m not that fond of big chains coming in and squeezing local businesses, but I also won’t blame them when restaurants that have been empty for years go out of business.

      1. If a local business person buys a franchise concept is it still a chain or can I still support the person who is putting up $$$ ?

      2. I agree with you. I used to love Sapporo but over the last few years it went downhill. Both food and service. I switched over to Osake.

      3. This coming from the woman that gushes over IN and OUT, endless Rendezvous guy stories, BJ’s need I say more were stanard fare on bitey club and so on. All you ever do is write about places opening or closing but yet why don’t you be a real food blog and go to Sapporo and give a review of the place rather than saying it got worse and worse.

        You’re a hack and I can’t wait for the day when the PD hires someone that will go into a place and give a realistic review. Maybe if they had a bad review written about them, it could have changed their thinking and thus their business. NO…..old Bitey is busy writing about Chipotle……hey bitey….beans and rice?

      4. I agree Heather. I have not eaten at Sapporo in decades (was one of the few Japanese places in the 1980s) but loved Calif. Thai. They had good food, but few patrons. We drive by many a Thai place to come from Sebastopol for Calif. Thai. Sad.

        Having kids and grandparents, we went to Fresh Choice quite often. It was real up and down, but more down lately. We were dissapointed to hear the closure. We just went to California Fresh tonight. Seems about the same as it was last Fall. Somethings are worse, but brownies and soups seem better, mainly because Fresh Choice brownies were horribly dry and bland.

  15. First Checkers, then Sweet River, then Sapporo, and now California Thai. So many restaurants are hanging on by their fingernails.

  16. Hey, don’t knock the live music in the Brickyard! Sprenger’s is bringing some life back to the place. Sad to see Sapporo & Sweet River go, although service and everything else at Sweet River has been going down hill, so with the opening of BJ’s I’m really not surprised.

    Any news on Pizzando in Healdsburg? It has looked rather dark the last few days…

    1. Pizzando is doing great! They were closed for their employee appreciation/holiday party on 1/8. But other than that – they seem to be busy all the time.

  17. I sort of can’t believe California That finally closed. I’ve never understood how they were able to stay in business this long as I never saw more than two diners in that place.

    Brickyard Center has quite a few spaces to fill. Hopefully they won’t lease to anymore businesses with live music.

  18. Just ate at California Fresh this past weekend. Hopefully they will get their act together. Arrived at 6:30 pm and the place was pretty empty and so was the food containers in the food line. Plus we had to look through a few dishes to get clean ones at the entrance and I asked for a replacement cup for the one the gal gave me with a crack in it. The decor is the same, worn down and dirty. Too bad.

    1. We were so happy the former Fresh Choice has finally reopened but were disappointed when we went there this past Friday. There were not anywhere as many choices as it was before and the salads and vegetables did not look fresh. One of pasta dishes had meat in it and there were no label saying what’s in it (which make it hard for vegetarians). We left somewhat hungry and unsatisfied. Will wait awhile before going back.

      1. I had a poor experience at the new Fresh Choice (now called California Fresh), too. in fact, I emailed this to the company:

        I ate at California Fresh tonight, and the quality was much lower than Fresh Choice used to be. The breads and cupcakes were dry and hard, like they’d been sitting out all day. Fewer items. No pudding desserts, no yams, no tofu, no pasta with vegetarian marinara, no labels on many of the items. The only dessert other than the dried out cupcake was the “soft serve” dessert – two top ingredients were sugar and corn syrup, zero food value.

        You’re saying one thing but doing another. The staff is wonderful, but the food is far from fresh or nutritious.

        1. Please let me know what their email address is. They don’t seem to have a website (there is only a website for a California Fresh that’s in Southern CA).

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